Lemonade made from fake ‘lemons’ is still sour, but certainly better than the lemons alone.

April 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

An act of charity will often polish the questionable pedigree of a gift given.

In other words, even a parasitic knockoff can be put to good use.

Fakes that have been confiscated are occasionally given to the less fortunate. While this kind of repurposing is not new, it is always inspiring to witness.

Frankly, it can come as a bit of a shock to find ‘counterfeiting’ and ‘charity’ in the same sentence, but this type of generosity is able to put the otherwise bloodsucking items to good use. Copycat t-shirts can be forgiven when they are used to ease suffering.

In that sense, the latest example of this kind of generosity is a most welcome surprise.

The Brooklyn D.A. has announced that millions of dollars worth of confiscated counterfeit goods will be shipped to aid earthquake victims in Haiti.

The effort, named Operation Help Haiti, will deliver 125,000 tons of seized goods with an estimated street value of over $10 million to those affected by the quake.

A key component of the operation was the permission obtained from patent holders that included Nike and Timberland. The D.A. contacted each brand to ask if they would have any issue if these patent violations were used to provide humanitarian assistance. The companies, which included Antik, Diesel Industries, and Black Label among others, graciously gave permission.

To avoid any confusion, the fake brand identifiers will be removed from the items before the goods are delivered.

The project is a collaborative effort and wouldn’t be possible without the help of organizations like World Vision, who will be delivering the fake goods, and Phoenix Beverage, Inc., who will be warehousing the items while they are organized and packaged.

This is a fine example of the collaboration needed to successfully fight the fake trade.

The knockoffs donated to the less fortunate not only help those who receive them, but rattle the very counterfeiting paradigm – while the production of these goods enslaves many people, the goods themselves, when confiscated and redistributed, can help to free many people from enslaving circumstance.

And while charity alone may not flip the marketplace for fakes on its ear and give it the few stiff kicks to the tailbone it deserves, this type of generous act is critical to ending the exploitation and abuse.

At the heart of Operation Help Haiti and similar efforts to donate confiscated goods is compassion. Where counterfeiters’ main concern is their profit, a compassionate individual turns outward to embrace those in need, rather than their own needs.

Compassion is the very opposite of counterfeiting.

However, in the spirit of full disclosure, it has to be said that counterfeiters shouldn’t expect to receive any of this compassion when they’re finally brought to justice.

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